A group of Los Angeles engineers created the SPHE in 1974 to serve as professional role models to the Hispanic community. Auburn’s student chapter was started in November 2010.
Khristine Pizarro, senior in chemical engineering, is the chapter’s president and said she became interested in the society after speaking with a friend who is a member at Florida State University.
She then spoke to Virginia Davis, associate professor of chemical engineering and adviser to the group.
“I started researching about the national organization, their purpose, their objectives,” Pizarro said. “Then Dr. Davis and I started talking about how we should have a chapter here on campus because there are no real professional chapters or organizations for Hispanics.”
Membership and benefits aren’t only open to Hispanics and engineers. Although it has a strong Hispanic base, the SPHE mission statement says it obtains excellence through integrity, empowerment, achievement, diversity and continuous improvement while enhancing America’s position in science, technology, engineering and math.
“A lot of the other national chapters, the majority of their members aren’t Hispanic,” Pizarro said.
Katie Mantooth, career counselor for career development services, said involvement in organizations like the SPHE is a great way to network while building skills for use after college.
“I think it’s an opportunity for students with similar interests to encourage one another and share ideas,” Mantooth said.
Pizarro said networking, scholarships and the SPHE’s annual career fair are the three best benefits of membership.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of networking through the national organization,” Pizarro said. “They also have a really big career fair with different companies from oil to pharmaceuticals to aviation.”
Auburn’s chapter will be monitored for a year before it will be eligible for promotion from its current provisional status to an official campus organization.
Pizarro said the SPHE will focus on recruitment and fundraising while waiting for its promotion. It will also participate in this year’s E-Day and the Big Event.
The SPHE’s first general meeting is Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in Ross Hall 136. Mantooth is also the guest speaker for the upcoming meeting.
“When I went to the national conference, they were all a big family,” Pizarro said. “People love that the SPHE has such a huge career fair and different opportunities to become a good leader.”